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Clementine Poppy Seed Loaf

When our children were small, Santa used to leave a clementine in the toe of their Christmas stockings. Now that they’re all grown, they still love clementines and have pronounced this loaf cake, “Divine!” Full of fresh orange flavor and decked out with a lovely thick layer of orange-scented icing, this cake is absolutely satisfying, light and lovely and just about perfect!

Clementine Poppy Seed Loaf

5 oz. butter, softened, plus extra for greasing (10 tbs.)
2 oz. crème fraîche (scant 2 fl. oz.)
7 oz. golden caster sugar (1 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
8 oz. self-rising flour (2 cups minus 2 tbs.)
2 oz. cornstarch (½ cup)
2 tbs. poppy seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
4 clementines, zest from 3 and 3½ fl. oz. juice

For the icing

5 oz. unsalted butter, softened (10 tbs.)
11 oz. confectioner’s sugar (3 cups), sifted
5 oz. crème fraîche (4 fl. oz.)
zest 2 clementines
1 tbs. chopped candied orange peel (optional)

Heat the oven to 325°F and grease a large loaf tin. Line the base and long sides with a strip of parchment.

Beat the butter, crème fraîche, sugar, and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the flours, poppy seeds, zest, and juice. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake on a middle shelf for 60-70 minutes until a skewer poked into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 20 minutes, then carefully remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar, and crème fraîche until smooth. Add half the clementine zest and beat just to incorporate. Cover and leave in the fridge to chill until the cake is ready to ice and the icing is firm enough to spread or pipe.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake or put in a food bag (or piping bag), snip off the corner and pipe thick stripes over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining clementine zest, the candied peel (if using), and a pinch more poppy seeds. Will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

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